If your dog is sometimes bored around the house or missing their usual activities, doing brain games can help entertain, engage, and wear them out! Here are three of my favorites.
- Food puzzles. Dogs are both predators and scavengers by nature. That means that they are wired to search for food sources and work to get that food. Stuffed Kongs are my go-to food puzzle, but some other fun ones are snuffle mats, and simple food scatters (toss kibble in the grass and let them find all the little bites). You can also take things like toilet paper tubes, fill it with your dog’s kibble, fold the ends over, and let your dog shed the cardboard to get to the food. Food treat balls and other toys are also fun for dogs.
- Find it and scent games are another fun activity. You can have your dog find a treat, toy, another item, or even a unique scent such as those used in the sport of nosework. But for a simple at home game, try this: Start with a toy. Hold the toy in your left hand and have a few treats ready to go in your right hand. Put both hands behind your back. Bring out the toy and when your dog comes up to it to investigate, say, “yes” and then give your dog a treat. Once your dog is targeting the toy, say, “find it” before the dog touches the item. Then gradually move the toy to the ground when you are practicing this. When your dog will go up to the toy on the ground, start hiding it in plain sight, just a few feet away. Say, “find it” and when your dog goes up to the toy, mark it with a click or yes, and then generously reward. Gradually make the hides harder. Let your dog see where you are hiding when they are learning, but when they get the idea, you can hide it when they aren’t looking. If your dog loses interest, you are probably making it too hard too fast, so just slow down the process and have fun!
- Training of course! From brushing up on manners, to finally working on that problem behavior, to learning new tricks, training takes energy, focus, and is mentally and physically exhausting for dogs. If you need help with any of your training needs feel free to get in touch via email for quick questions or to schedule a Zoom appointment.